College Basketball Best Bets | 3 Picks for Monday
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Kolek (Marquette)
Monday of Feast Week consists of two top-25 matchups — including Purdue vs. Gonzaga in Honolulu– and the start of the best early-season tournament in the nation.
Jim Root of Three Man Weave has college basketball best bets and Three Man Weave's three picks for Monday, November 20.
So, dive in below and find the best betting value in hoops for today.
College Basketball Best Bets — Monday, Nov. 20
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Utah State vs. Akron
By Jim Root
A semifinal matchup in the Cayman Islands Classic, Akron and Utah State feature two defensive-minded coaches squaring off in a back-to-back schedule spot.
That forms the crux of this handicap. Both John Groce (Akron) and Danny Sprinkle (Utah State) have found their greatest success as coaches with physical, defensive squads. Pair that with the short turnaround from narrow wins yesterday, and this showdown could turn into a game of one-upsmanship as both try to prove their mettle.
Both teams also faced an opponent that made them speed up yesterday. Those foes — FIU and Marshall — rank highly in KenPom’s Adjusted Tempo, skewing the possession count up. Expect both Groce and Sprinkle to willingly slow this one down after getting up and down yesterday.
Akron especially profiles as an under team. The Zips’ best player is Enrique Freeman, a bruising rebounder and stout paint patroller. Their guards, though, are still figuring out their roles after the team lost star Xavier Castaneda from last year’s squad.
The market has proven wise to this angle. While I wrote up this preview, the total dropped from 145 to 142.5. I believe that some value remains, though, with both teams willing to play a grinding half-court style while conserving their legs for a potential championship matchup tomorrow.
Pick: Under 142.5 (Play to 142)
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Oregon vs. Florida A&M
By Jim Root
This game is a part of the Pac-12/SWAC Legacy Series, a conference alliance meant to serve as a platform for education around social justice and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
From a basketball perspective, it creates a scheduling rarity: a power-conference team playing a road game against a low major.
The initiative actually began last year, and it didn't treat Pac-12 teams well whatsoever. Washington State lost outright by 11 at Prairie View A&M as an 11-point favorite. Arizona State lost in overtime at Texas Southern as a 12.5-point favorite. And Colorado completed the outright loss trifecta at Grambling State, falling as a 14.5-point favorite.
The SWAC schools so rarely get chances like this that the home environment gets amped up to a unique fever pitch. As FAMU women’s head coach Bridgette Gordon told the Tallahassee Democrat, “It’s really special because you don’t normally get Power Five teams to come to play you on your court.”
As a result, you can count on getting the best version of Florida A&M here. The Rattlers will not roll over even if they get down early, propelled by the electric atmosphere.
Oregon will be very short-handed in this matchup. Seven-footers N’Faly Dante and Nate Bittle – who both started the season-opener against Georgia and combined for 29 points and 30 rebounds – are both out with injury, as are heralded freshmen Jackson Shelstad and Mookie Cook.
Without Dante and Bittle, Oregon won't have its usual staggering size advantage inside.
The Ducks’ roster limitations combined with the massive home opportunity for FAMU creates a strong betting opportunity on the home underdog.
Pick: Florida A&M +22 (Play to +20)
UCLA vs. Marquette
By Jim Root
The nightcap of the Maui Invitational features two teams at extremely different ends of the team development spectrum.
Marquette knows who it is right now. The Golden Eagles returned all but one player from their 2022-23 rotation and rank fourth nationally in minutes continuity, per KenPom. They earned an impressive road win at Illinois, evidencing their early cohesion.
UCLA, meanwhile, is a work in progress. The Bruins lost a ton of production and rank 327th in that same minutes continuity statistic.
Coach Mick Cronin is incorporating a ton of new pieces, including three international freshmen through the first three games. A fourth — Berke Buyuktuncel — was just cleared by the NCAA this weekend, meaning another new part must integrate into the Bruins’ rotation.
Cronin scheduled accordingly, as UCLA has yet to play a team ranked inside KenPom’s top 325. This massive step up in competition could be a rude awakening for a young, still-meshing roster.
From a matchup lens, the Golden Eagles could be vulnerable on the defensive glass – UCLA is huge in the paint – but other angles should offset that deficiency. Marquette’s ball movement and spacing will be crucial to defeating Cronin’s stingy defense.
UCLA also sorely lacks shooting. Marquette can comfortably sag into the paint against UCLA’s intimidating size, forcing jumpers over the top. Those long jumpers should lead to transition opportunities for Marquette’s lethal offensive attack.
A final note: star Marquette point guard Tyler Kolek was dealing with an ankle issue, but he gutted through it last Tuesday at Illinois and racked up 24 points, six rebounds and four assists.
After a week of treatment, he should be at or near full strength.
Pick: Marquette -5.5 (Play to -7)
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